Marty Robbins performs “El Paso City” on the Marty Robbins Spotlight in 1978.

El Paso City would arrive at number # 1 on the lists of US Hot Country Songs, for two weeks in a row and it stayed 11 weeks on the list. It was the fifteenth number one and penultimate of the Marty Robbins race.

YouTube MartyRobbinsVEVO Channel
YouTube MartyRobbinsVEVO Channel

El Paso City:

Lp cover Marty Robbins ( Columbia 1976 )
Lp cover Marty Robbins ( Columbia 1976 )

Song written and recorded by Marty Robbins, on January 26, 1976, for the Columbia label, with the production of Billy Sherrill, was released on March 19, 1976. On June 19, 1976, El Paso City would arrive at number # 1 on the lists of US Hot Country Songs, for two weeks in a row and it stayed 11 weeks on the list, and on June 26, 1976, it would do the same on the lists of Canadian RPM Country Tracks also arriving at number # 1. It was the fifteenth number one and penultimate of the Marty Robbins race.

The song would be part of Marty’s forty-second studio album, El Paso City (Columbia 1976), on the US Top Country albums charts, it reached number # 1.

Single cover Marty Robbins ( Columbia 1959 )
Single cover Marty Robbins ( Columbia 1959 )

 

Robbins wrote “El Paso City” while flying over El Paso, Texas, in, reported, the same amount of time it takes to sing, four minutes and 14 seconds. It was the second time that happened to him; the first time was when he composed El Paso, recorded on April 7, 1959, for the Columbia label, which reached number # 1, on December 21, 1959, for seven consecutive weeks.

 

In “El Paso City,” the main character is a passenger on a plane over El Paso and he is forced to remember the song he heard a long time ago (“El Paso”). He does not remember the man who sang “El Paso”, but immediately detects a supernatural connection with the story. He asks himself: “It could be that I could be the cowherd in this mystery,” suggesting a past life.

Some versions:

Del Kacher 1976 (Hi Hat Records) Instrumental
Blazing Saddles 1981 (Wild Dog records)
Wayne Horsburgh 2010 (Rotation Records)
Andy Lee Lang 2015 (Gabriel Music)

Marty Robbins – El Paso City Lyrics

From thirty thousand feet above
The desert floor, I see it there below
A city with a legend –
The west Texas city of El Paso
Where long ago I heard a song
About a Texas cowboy and a girl
And a little place called Rosa’s
Where he used to go and watch this beauty whirl.

I don’t recall who sang the song
But I recall the story that I heard
And as I look down on the city,
I remember each and ev’ry word
The singer sang about a jealous cowboy
And the way he used a gun
To kill another cowboy
Then he had to leave El Paso on the run.

El Paso City, by the Rio Grande
The cowboy lived and rode away
But love was strong he couldn’t stay
He rode back just to die in that El Paso sand
El Paso City, by the Rio Grande
I try not to let you cross my mind
But still I find there’s just a mystery
In the song that I don’t understand.

My mind is down there somewhere
As I fly above the badlands of New Mexico
I can’t explain why I should know
The very trail he rode back to El Paso
Can it be that man can disappear
From life and live another time
And does the mystery deepen ’cause you think
That you yourself lived in that other time.

Somewhere in my deepest thoughts
Familar scenes and memories unfold
These wild and unexplained emotions
That I’ve had so long but I have never told
Like every time I fly up thru the heavens
And I see you there below
I get the feeling sometime
In another world I lived in El Paso.

El Paso City, by the Rio Grande
Could it be that I could be
The cowboy in this mystery
That died there in that desert sand so long ago
El Paso City, by the Rio Grande
A voice tells me to go and see
Another voice keeps tellin’ me
Maybe death awaits me in El Paso

Single Marty Robbins ( Columbia 1976 )
Single Marty Robbins ( Columbia 1976 )

Miquel Batlle
djmiquel@whenthecowboysings.org